Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Some Simple Rules of Etiquette

While eating breakfast on Christmas morning, I happened to come across an interesting book published by Random House in 1956 that offered a laundry list of tips on proper etiquette. It’s amazing how many rules still apply (or at least they should). Take this one, for instance…

Children should be taught early that a store, bus or office is not the place for loud noises, arguments, singing or any behavior which would bother others. The same reasoning should be used to discourage staring, particularly at handicapped people, and audible personal comments about strangers and members of other races.

Somebody should tell that one to 90 percent of the kids I see in stores today.

Here’s another one that speaks to the bling, bling culture of today…

There are strict conventions surrounding masculine jewelry, all of them based on the concept that, except for a ring, a man should wear nothing that’s not absolutely functional. It is in poor taste for men to wear diamonds of any kind, except chips or tiny rose diamonds on evening studs or cuff links. Men don’t wear rubies, emeralds or any light-colored stone. Although, for some reason, sapphires are considered properly masculine.

This one’s for Lil Kim and all the other chickenheads…

Specific rules about modesty change with the styles. However, modesty is based not on fashion, but rather on appropriateness. A woman boarding a subway in shorts during the rush hour is immodest not because the shorts are in themselves indecent, but because they are worn in the wrong place at the wrong time. A well-mannered and self-respecting woman avoids clothes or behaviors that are inappropriate or conspicuous.

Another one for the chickenheads and the chickenhead-lovers as it relates to men, women and money…

No girl worth your time is going to judge you by the amount of money you spend on her. There is really no reason not to be frank about money, and the better you know the girl, the less you have to worry about sharing with her your financial ups and downs.

For the plus-sized chickenheads with too much booty in those pants…

Unappealing as it may sound, if you are on the “heavy” side, you should stick to what is known as “vague” clothes—clothes that are not cut to reveal the figure precisely. The dress that is designed to show off a slender rib cage, emphasize a tiny waist, and hug the hips and thighs is not for you. You need clothes with a comfortable softness so that ridges pressed up by your brassiere straps or girdle do not show. You will also look better in loose clothes than in tight ones. It is a pathetic mistake for large women to try to cram themselves into clothes that are too small, under the mistaken impression that the smaller size will magically make them look slimmer. Scant clothes are not for you—not even in evening dresses or bathing suits. Avoid, too, sleeveless blouses, unless your arms are slim enough to look well bare.

And my personal favorite message to the Snoop-Nelly-50 Cent-type “gangster” rappers of the world who like to brag about the number of groupie legs they part…

A well-mannered man does not talk about his conquests. He does not, in fact, say anything about a woman which would give others a questionable opinion of her integrity or morals. Most men automatically accord this courtesy to their wives or sweethearts, but they may be less respectful about a woman whose relationship with them is more casual. Locker-room bull sessions about women are poor manners.

And there you have it...the rules of etiquette, 1950s style.


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